Scandinavian betting firm LeoVegas have hit the back of the net with a new sponsorship deal struck with Manchester City – despite rumours that a blanket ban on gambling sponsors in the Premier League is on the horizon.
The agreement, which will perhaps tellingly last only one year, will see the LeoVegas branding etched onto the training kit of the reigning Premier League champions, while branding will also be installed at the club’s Etihad Stadium.
The firm, who are now a subsidiary of the MGM Resorts group following a £530 million takeover deal completed this summer, have promised their customers ‘unique’ matchday experiences and a raft of exclusive content featuring players from City’s men’s and women’s teams.
Their CEO, Gustaf Hagman, said:
“LeoVegas Group is proud to be entering into this partnership with Manchester City, and excited to be able to offer our customers unique experiences with the club.”
Meanwhile Dina Ahmad, the vice president of global partnerships at the City Football Club, revealed she was excited at the prospect of ‘sparking further growth’ in Europe and Canada, where the two enterprises will join forces.
The timing of the agreement comes as something of a surprise, given that a ban on gambling firms sponsoring Premier League clubs is thought to be amongst the proposals in a governmental review of the betting sector.
And the chances of that seem higher than ever now that Michelle Donelan, a known gambling industry reformist, has been appointed as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports.
The minister for culture is in charge of a wide-ranging remit that includes the governance of sport, betting and how the two marry together.
The gambling industry is vital to the prosperity of horse racing thanks to the betting levy, while bookmakers and betting brands continue to pump millions into English football – at the time of writing, eight of the 20 Premier League clubs have a bookie on their matchday kit.
But Donelan, for the most part, is not a fan of the sector, and has previously voted to reduce the maximum stake on betting shop fixed odds betting terminals – that was enacted back in 2018.
She has also previously called for a curb on gambling advertising on TV, social media and at sports grounds, claiming that it ‘preys on the vulnerable’. And it’s this point that sources believe will feature on the government’s delayed white paper on the industry.
Donelan will now oversee the transition of the proposed reforms into law, with the paper now expected to be published this autumn following the chaos caused by Boris Johnson’s resignation.
A voluntary ban was previously discussed by Premier League clubs, although this deal between Man City and LeoVegas may circumnavigate any veto as it only relates to training kit, rather than their logo featuring on the Cityzens’ matchday shirt.
The appointment of Liz Truss as prime minister has also increased the probability of extra reforms being brought in, which are thought to include affordability checks for punters and limits on free bets and loyalty schemes.